If you like to read, and enjoy quirky, welcome. There are about 30 random things here for you. After you read a short story you may even find some personal comments/insights! The main purpose of creating this blog is for writers. I see so much written about writer's block, and honestly, I don't have it. Occasionally, I write short stories, longer stories, books, plays, one act plays, monologues, and sometimes I even think one is good enough to submit somewhere. Of course, when you submit a story to a magazine that receives 200 stories a month and publishes five, you'd better enjoy the process of writing. I'm not suggesting that I'm a good writer, merely that I can sit down and just start writing.

It is important to write, to constantly be working on your art. If you are constantly plagued by writer's block, perhaps you are being too selective in what you write about. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some examples of my writing, from someone who can write all the time. Occasionally the topics are a bit strange, but I don't let that slow me down, I love to write and get to a finished product. Hopefully, by looking at some examples, you will say to yourself that phrase that all artists who visit MOMA in NYC say: "Well, I can do this!" That would be good, because you can! One of my posts is about a talking tomato. (You have to be able to do better than that!)

In part I'm trying to get some of my stuff in one place, so keep in mind I never claimed it was going to be an incredible read. You can decide that. I will tell you that occasionally I have a story in me that seems to fit the goal of a publication, and I try to write specifically with that goal in mind. Lately I've been considering publications that publish nonfiction memoirs, so some of the entries you'll find here will have that flavor. Perhaps this is a way to get past writer's block - find a publication looking for something that you'd like to write. It seems like memoir-based publications may be a good place to start, because we're all experts in our own families. I'm using a blog here to share some of the things I've written; the blog format is not ideal, so you need to poke around a little at old posts, to see if you can find a story or something else that may interest you.

Two last items. None of these are finished products. I usually get to a point where I have something written, and then stop. If it is something I may decide to submit for some reason, I'll finish formatting, following the specific rules of the magazine or organization (the rules are alwaysdifferent). If you do see something in here that you may be interested in using, don't hesitate to contact me.

So welcome to my blog. Welcome to my writing. Write, people, write! It feels good.

Please also consider getting a copy of my first book, Saturday Night at Sarah Joy's. All Royalties go to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Please check out the book's blog at:

Thank you!

© 2012 John Allison

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Felicity and the Spider

Book I. Felicity and the Spider
A. I know you're not going to believe me, and
B. I understand that you think I'm taking such an easy way out/in, but
the truth is, little Felicity was bitten by a radioactive spider. I swear on her grandmother’s grave! Her father, Edward, the University Biologist, takes one trip a year to South America with his brother, Ewin, the University Geologist. They each look for different things, but when Edwin's Geiger counter went off and discovered that the source of radioactivity on the dark rain forest floor was moving ... well Edward decided he had to bring the radioactive spider that they'd found back to his lab. He did. It had unusual markings. He made the mistake of bringing Felicity to work with him. When she saw it, she wanted to pet it. It was, after all,
A. big, and
B. hairy!
She did. The spider felt her little finger push down on it’s torso, and felt that the appropriate response would be a bite, so it bit her, but not so'd anybody would know. It left a little mark, which didn't bother Felicity at all, and she felt nothing, so life, spiders included, moved on.
At “almost 5 years old” (FYI, do not call her 4) Felicity enjoys
A. long walks in the park
B. world peace, and
C. reading.
She doesn't actually do a lot of reading, but please-please-please’s people to read to her whenever she can. She often wonders exactly how they can open a book and tell her a story while she can’t.
She wonders; but she never asked for the details.
You're probably aware that people who get bitten by radioactive spiders usually end up making a really nice form-fitting outfit for themselves, and grow glands for squirting web material so they can swing between buildings. Perhaps someday Felicity will learn that story, but probably not for a while. She has no special outfit, no special glands, has no spider senses or talents. She is just a girl who does not know she was ever bitten. Felicity learned at a very young age to
A. keep her mouth shut, and
B. carry books with her all the time.
The phrase that seemed to work well for her was "I want", so she didn’t experiment much to see if it was actually important or not, she just kept using it. One hot summer day she was sitting on her back porch in the shade while her mother and older sister swam laps in the back yard pool. Felicity wore a hat with a big brim. She reached for an old J.C. Penny's catalog, which was no simple feat since it weighed as much as she did. She managed to get it into her lap, and she plowed her way through, starting with the inside cover.
She enjoyed every page, and every item on every page. Ever since grandma bought her that tiara, she really loves to look at shiny sparkly jewelry. There was the prettiest fake diamond ring with a cubic zirconia face of Winnie the Pooh on it. She pointed to the picture, touched it, and whispered, "I want".
The picture of the ring went from two dimensions to three, and sitting on the top of that picture of a ring, right there on page 341 of the 1992 Summer Catalog, was it.
Felicity decided that she really liked catalog shopping.
She put the ring on, and paged her way through men's clothing, out into the great beyond - women's clothing, girl's clothing, appliances, bedding, electronics ... why would anyone ever put a catalog down?
Laughing over who-knows-what, Mom and Sis grabbed towels and headed for the porch to find Felicity sitting on her chair with a catalog on the floor beside her, and all of her clothes on the floor in front of her. She was wearing a new pink top, new pink shorts, pink panties, pink socks, white shoes, and a Pooh ring.
Her mother asked, “Where did all this stuff come from?”
Felicity pointed to the catalog and smiled.
"I like!" she said.
"Did grandma stop by while we were swimming?" her mother asked.
Felicity's mind raced, as much as a 4 year old's can (sorry, almost 5 year old). She'd never seen this kind of catalog shopping before, but what did she know. There was always the possibility that it was a bit unique. She decided to postpone pursuit of clarification, so provided her mother with a nod and an "Uh, huh."
Blame it all on grandma, she's always buying the girls things!
As you probably noticed, Felicity's family is not poor. Nonetheless, she's a kid, and kids always want everything they see, and her Mother had to have several talks with her when she was younger.
She remembered every time that Mom said, "you can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."
Mom is very smart, and Felicity really appreciated the thought. That coupled to the "people are starving in India" (wherever that is) line made her appreciate what she had very much, and so she rarely wanted. She watched her sister, who just got her first car, and realized that this would change, so she chose to be pious while she could be (although "pious" was not the word that popped into her head).
While she is (still, honestly) four years old, Felicity is an admirable kid. She is developing an interesting sense of guilt for such an early age! She was watching TV in her room, looking at her pretty diamond-y Pooh ring, and feeling like it was just so excessive. It was pretty, certainly, but she didn't really need it. She went and found her catalog, searched for that page, and put the ring back on its picture.
Nothing happened. She pushed down on it, hoping that it would go back into the page. It did not. She waved her hand over it like some sort of magician. Nothing. She sat with her hand casually on top of the ring, which was on top of the catalog picture, thinking what she'd do when she was finished with something, when it was time to return it to the real owners, so she said, "you can take it back now." She also tried, "please take it back" and even tried making a 4-year-old whiney sound. The ring persisted. After several more attempts, ranging from polite to rude, she said "thank you" and the ring slid back into the catalog page.
Maybe it was the 32 tries, maybe it was the "thank you", but she knew she was onto something. She had a reverse.
She wondered. She wondered all day what was happening, and what should she do.
Quietly, at 1 AM, when she always awoke to pee, she snuck down the carpeted stairs to daddy's carpeted office room. She made a side stop in the kitchen and got one of several LED flashlights (not carpeted) that were on a hook. In Daddy's office, she poked through a pile of magazines in the carpeted corner and picked one with cars in it. She made her way out a door in the dining room to the garage. Felicity only knew one garage in her life, so didn't realize that a four-car garage is unusual. In it sat Mommy's car, Daddy's car and Sissy's car. Felicity backed up to the step leading into the house, used her flashlight, and picked out a Jeep because there were girls standing around it. She touched it and said, "I want". In the darkness she watched the fourth automobile fill the empty spot.
Felicity got very quiet. This was big. She had to keep this a big secret. Maybe she was doing something very wrong and would be punished. She just realized that she was lucky the car hadn't appeared on the page in her hand. It probably is heavy. But it appeared right there on the concrete floor, nicely positioned. She had only summoned/requested small things like rings and panties, which were easy to put back if she chose to. She had to try something. With the magazine open to the Jeep page, she walked up to the car and said "thank you".
It sat there, looking back at her in all of its bigness. She held the magazine page up, pressed it against the car door and said, "thank you".
She could still smell that new car smell. The car glistened in the blue LED light. Felicity realized that it was going to be an awkward morning, even though Daddy probably would not be asking herfirst where the Jeep came from.
Felicity started to cry. It was a natural thing. She didn't know what to do. She didn't want to be punished, and she certainly didn't want to have to pay for car insurance already. One last try … she touched the Jeep and said, "thank you." Its molecules were decimated, then decimated again, the car becoming less and less real, until it was gone. She was learning.
On the day of Felicity's fifth birthday, after Mommy had put her to bed and cleaned the last bits of cake from her fingers, Felicity pulled one of her sister's magazines out from under her pillow. This had been a plan for more than a month. She turned to page 37. She set the magazine down on the bed, put her finger over a picture of Justin Bieber, and said, "I want."
A head appeared first, with shoulders following, presumably with the rest of the body on its way. The head, appearing mid sentence and suddenly went through a series of expressions, rapidly morphing from bewildered to scared. Felicity was really not in a position to ask questions like
A. When she got her Pooh ring, was it one of the Pooh rings that were made (same with the Jeep), or was it that specific Pooh ring used in the photo? Did it, at the same time, disappear off of someone’s hand?
B. While there are a lot of identical Jeeps out there, what happens when you pick something unique, one of a kind, like a Bieber? Do you get a copy of a Bieber, or the real deal?
These may be questions for later years. The look on his face sent her into a panic. Even before he had hands, she put a finger on his forehead, said "thank you," and the processed reversed, so the only Bieber in her bedroom was a poster on the far wall.
She had a good six months of practice, learning the rules, and living well. She was smart enough to hide the Whopper wrapper, from that night when she was just so hungry. She knew it was probably wrong (kids were still starving in India). She did get a bat and ball for the boy next door who she really liked for awhile. She held her breath, wondering when they would go back to wherever they came from, but they seemed to persist.
She assembled a backpack with a collection of magazines and catalogs and some of her favorite ("kid") books, and some more personal things, and carried it everywhere. She managed to treat her friends to Rita's water ice one hot day without them seeing where it all came from. Overall, she was very responsible, and what was clearly a special gift was not overused. She had no idea where it came from, or why her, but what it could do did at times occupy her thoughts.
Late that summer, Felicity spent a few weeks visiting her Aunt in Colorado.
A. her Aunt,
B. Felicity, and
C. her parents
thought this was a good thing for her to do. The in-flight magazine was torture for her, and the cabin did briefly fill with the smell of fresh cut roses, but she sent them back as fast as they appeared.
Her Aunt had 1600 acres of land, and horses, and lots of trails to roam around on. It was pretty hard to get lost because much of the land was on the side of a hill, so the more you wandered, the higher up you went, always being able to see back down to the Aunt house and horse houses. What neither Felicity nor her Aunt knew was that there were some girls in town who were less than polite. They found that Auntie's land was a great place for hanging out, drinking, smoking, and just generally raising hell. There were six of them. None were nice; all were older. They generally did not like the idea of being caught on this land, much less by a 5+ year old. Felicity did not hesitate to walk right up to them and tell them they were on her Aunt's farm so they gotta leave. They didn't hesitate to push her down – hard. She felt her bottom slide in the dirt, and knew the back of her dress was probably yucky. She pulled back a few tears and stood up to face them. These little bitches grabbed her, and started to tie her to a tree. It seemed funny to them, and from the conversation, yes they were going to leave her there. As they struggled with the wiry little body, they constantly threatened to come back and find her if she ever told anyone about seeing them there. One girl picked up a half-empty bottle of Miller Lite and poured it on Felicity, pointing out that nobody was going to be happy to find her smelling of beer.
Fortunately, there were too many girls to be efficient. Each eagerly had a different idea of what to do with this sweet little girl; none of the ideas were very pleasant.
Felicity slipped a little wrist out of a belt that was holding her arms, and like a greyhound out of the starting gate, she flew off the starting line and headed down a trail. The crowd of nasty girls behind her was much faster, even though she had a head start, but they weren’t familiar with the twists, turns, and side-shoots of the trail. She went down on the ground and rolled as she pulled off her backpack. She reached inside for the one book that had a hard cover, a storybook from when she was three. The girls surrounded her, feet prepared to kick this little pretty for a while. She looked at the front cover, touched part of it and said, "I want". The girls parted, backed away and huddled together. Felicity didn't even look behind her; she confidently knew what was there. It was noisy back there. It's tail swung back and forth, and its head was almost up into the trees. Felicity's team was complete, and no one was going to attempt to bully a girl with a dragon behind her.
It hissed. Two girls fainted. Felicity calmly said to them that if they ran, they would be eaten. They believed her. So they stood. She thought. The dragon simmered and stewed, possibly bewildered, but somehow understanding which side she was on.
Felicity drew a circle in the dirt. "I want all of your shoes and socks and beer and purses. All of them, in the circle right now, or I'll tell her that you're all her lunch. I think she's hungry."
While many started to protest, their words just seemed to make "her" the dragon more restless, so they quickly followed instructions. Felicity then suggested that they leave, and if they ever came back, they would meet some of her other friends - the endlessly hungry ones. The girls slowly backed off, moving faster and faster until they were in a full run back to their car on a small side-road not far away.
Felicity looked up at Bertha the Dragon. Her eyes (Bertha's) were blood red, but she hovered over Felicity as a true protector, just like she protected a girl in her favorite book, “Meet Bertha”. Realizing what she had to do, Felicity teared up, as girls often do. She'd known Bertha for years, not like this, but for much of her life. She walked closer to the dragon, who almost moved back when Felicity's finger stuck out from her extended arm.
"I'm so sorry Bertha", she said, tears running down her cheek. "Thank you."
The leaves and pine needles crackled as the weight that was holding them down went away.
Felicity felt like she was too young to be doing this. What if Bertha hadn’t gone away? What if there was suddenly a dragon roaming the farm? What if Bertha wasn't so nice, and ate the horses ... and her Aunt!
Felicity went down a little path that she knew really well, to a little stream that she knew really well. She sat on a rock that she knew really well, again opened her backpack, and pulled out the one photo that was in there. It was a photo that she knew really well.
For a girl so little, you may be surprised that a photo could pull on her heart so strongly. It was Grandpa and a younger Felicity. It was taken the year that he died. She wondered what would happen if she touched her own picture. Would she suddenly be younger again? Would there be two of her? It was not a risk worth taking. She didn't hesitate to do what she always knew someday she would. She touched the picture of her grandfather and said, "I want".
He sat with her on that big rock for much of the day, never more than a few inches apart. She explained to him all about "I want" and how it had scared her. It had scared him too! She wanted an adult to know, and to help her understand what to do. Her grandpa was the smartest man in the world. Everything was going to be all right now.
He talked to her like an adult, which she sorta liked, and which was scary too. He talked about responsibility and how this was a gift. He made sure she understood that it wasn't normal, that she may be the first girl to ever be able to do this. She didn't know what to say, so just watched his face and his lips and his eyes and enjoyed the warmth.
With him, they made a plan, that she would stop, wait until she was 9, then sit down with her parents and tell them the whole story. Grandpa said that if they doubted any of it, she could just bring him into the conversation. They laughed.
"That should convince them," he chuckled!
In case you wanted to know more.
As her ninth birthday approached, Felicity's family asked her what she'd like. She said she didn't want cake; instead she wanted to talk to them about something very important to her. They bought her a cake anyway, but did agree to have a family meeting around the kitchen table.
Felicity found the well-worn J. C. Penny catalog, still on the porch after all these years, and brought it to the table. She opened it to page 341, put her finger on a cubic zirconia Winnie the Pooh ring and said, "I want".
Her mother explained that the catalog was pretty old, and they may not still make them, but they would try to find her one.
She looked under her finger. There was only a picture of a ring. She reached into her pocket, so prepared for this day, and pulled out her natty photograph of her and her Grandpa. She put her finger on her grandpa's chest, and said, "I want".
Her mother started to cry. She missed her father more than she had ever said, and to know that Felicity missed him as well touched her. She scooped up her daughter and hugged her tight. "I know," she whispered. "I miss him so much. I think about him every day. He'll always be with us, hon. Never far away. I really believe that."
Felicity thanked her parents, and went to her room. She wasn't even thinking when she called Bertha right in her room. She went back to her old standards. She wanted a car, even though her bedroom would be an unusual garage. But the time had passed. Whatever it was was gone. She wished she hadn't listened to Grandpa, but also knew that he probably knew best. Maybe she'd be a very different person today if she hadn't stopped “wanting”.
She nodded to herself, realizing that 9 would have been too young to be married, even to a famous pop star. It was probably best this way.
She sat down at her desk, got out some paper and colored pencils, and started to create her artistic tour de force - a picture of a smiling dinosaur, deep in the woods, with a man standing next to her.
On the top she printed "TEAM FELICITY #1". She slipped it under a magnet on the refrigerator, where it stayed until, at age 24, she married. At that point she had her own refrigerator, and much more, all acquired just the way everyone else does it.

Book II. Felicity and the 16 Spiders
You may find this hard to believe (I do too), but Felicity was not bitten by a radioactive spider once, nor twice, but 17 times. I’m sure if you told her she wouldn’t believe it either, until she gave it some serious thought.
Felicity grew up to be a very smart little girl and her father hoped she would follow in his footsteps as a biologist, so of course she completed a Ph.D. in Geothermal Physics, a hot topic! There were many interesting conversations around the Sunday dinner table concerning her father’s trips to a specific rainforest with his geologist brother, and Felicity was quick to realize that the stories happened to be incredibly relevant to her own career. They had anecdotal information about the area that was not in books, so she had a real edge when she wrote her first grant proposal, to go to the very same location, years later, and investigate using the floor of the rain forest as the ground plane for a geothermal heat pump, providing, ultimately thousands of gigawatts of electrical power to the region.
While unheard of, she’d gotten a call within the week of submitting her proposal. The NSF would fund her trip, but they’d like her to make a teeny tiny little side trip. Within 20 miles of her study site, it turns out, there were just a few containers in the ground of highly radioactive material, stored there by the US government.
“Criminals!” she muttered.
All they needed was for her to go, find some simple measuring tools that were hidden in the trees, find a metal cap or two in the ground, and make some pressure and level measurements.
She said no.
They said that her proposal would have to be peer reviewed and they were already concerned about her budget.
She said yes – yes as in being blackmailed by her own government.
She learned that the containers were, unbelievably, buried submarines. While they only wanted a small amount of her time, she had a million questions.
“If you know how much you put in, why check levels? Do these things leak?” she asked, the apprehension in her voice becoming apparent.
“No, no, Doctor. You see, one of the easiest ways to get rid of hazardous waste is through dilution. For example, tritiated water is highly radioactive, but if you let it slowly evaporate into our big old atmosphere, its concentration anywhere becomes indetectably low. It’s done all the time,” the voice on the other end replied.
“So there are pipes going from the ground to your storage unit?” she asked.
“And the caps on top are what? There are caps, right?” she asked.
“Oh, of course, there are just small spaces around the lower part of the cap to let volatile compounds slowly, slowly evaporate.”
She pushed them. “Small spaces? Big enough for like a small worm to get in?”
“Possibly,” the voice conceded. “But if a worm fell down a 400 foot pipe, I doubt that climbing out would be an option.”
They seemed to have an answer for everything, so Felicity took their money, went on her trip, found her blood money radioactive zone, and opened the cap to measure pressure and level.
As she took off the camoflaged cap, dozens of spiders crawled over her body and off into the forest.
Bite, bite, bite, bite … bite, bite – 16 amazing little bites that she never felt, in part because she was screaming as a web made of creepy-crawlies briefly blanketed her.
While a small, young snake that snuck under the cap and fell down this 400 foot pipe would, in fact, never return to the surface, spiders have a spidey ability to walk where they wish – down the inside of a pipe to explore, and back up, following the fresh air gradient.
Now, reader, you may or may not know about when “almost 5” Felicity was bitten by a radioactive spider and her adventures thereafter. The connection between the spider and her unusual abilities that she developed was never made, and the same is going to be true here. Nonetheless, the outcome was the same, only this time, larger.
She sent a message back to a private phone number in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – pressure and level readings as requested. The site was on the fringe of the rain forest she’d been thermally mapping by satellite. Awaiting her in a nearby village was a guide arranged for her by a friend at the University of Brazil. She felt like she stepped into a National Geographic Documentary from the 1950’s when she met him. Her guide was very small, probably 70-ish, was substantially painted, and introduced himself to her as Washington. He had a team of equipment carriers ready to go if needed, and he was educated in many local dialects.
Felicity sat down in a little bar with him. She pointed to the south and then pointed to her final location on her map. She pointed to a red X, 50 miles to the south, and said, “I want to be here in two days.”
Actually, that’s not true. She said, “I want ..”.
She watched the bar molecules around them fade as the deep forest rose up around them. Washington, who accompanied her on this unusual trip, sat motionless, only his eyes darted around, looking at their new location.
“It’s baaaack,” Felicity said to her frozen guide. She knew the feeling well, even though it had been a lifetime ago.
Vaguely remembering a line from her father, she wondered if they had just taken the mountain to Mohammed, or of they moved Mohammed to the mountain. No matter.
She tried to think of how to undo this, how to “thank you” her way back, but instead she touched a dot on the map indicating where they started and again said, “I want”.
She and Washington materialized on a roof top about eight blocks away from their bar. Not bad, she thought.
Washington was shaking. “Are you a witch?” he asked.
“This never happened,” she responded, just not wanting to be bothered. “Understand?”
He nodded to the witch.

“I’m serious,” she added.
His nodding became much more vigorous. She really didn’t need a witness to her relapse.
Felicity postponed her rain forest trip for a week and went 140 miles by bus to a nearby town. She was smarter now and eager to understand exactly what she could do. Four calls to realtors and she spent an exhorbitant amount to rent a 600-acre farm and getaway, a common destination for groups of writers. She picked up magazines along the way and when the cab was out of view, she went out into a field and started her investigation of herself.
Ladies Home Journal – she “I wanted” a girdle and “thank you”ed it back onto the page. She quickly worked her way up to cars and trucks. It seemed like a truck in a Ford ad might eventually be sold, and show up for her with someone or someone’s stuff in it, but they were always crisp and clean when they arrived, just like in the photo. Interesting.
She looked in every storage space of the main house and surrounding buildings for ideas. She found an encyclopedia set, but even more interesting was the apparent fact that the owner must be a bit of a thrill seeker. In the garage was his car, obviously built for speed. There was lots of boating equipment in a shed, and even some skydiving equipment in the basement.
“Too perfect,” she said aloud.
She hauled a parachute from the basement and a floatation device from the boating shed out to the middle of a field. She flipped through a Time magazine she’d acquired with a color photo of “Sully” Sullenberger and his plane, US Airways Flight 1549, that went down in the Hudson River in New York, January 2009. The plane is probably unique. If she “requested” the plane, would she have it here in the middle of the field? Would she land on top of a plane in the water? So many reasonable possibilities. Perhaps it would be flying! The tag on the parachute said it had been packed in the last three months, so she strapped it on, opting to not take her flotation device. She stuffed all of her maps into a waterproof bag that was strapped to her leg. She put her finger on the picture of the plane in the river, said “I want,” and tensed up, eyes closed. She felt the ground beneath her change and the birds silenced.
She was in darkness. There were no sounds of lapping waves. She sat and waited for her eyes to adjust. No flashlight – stupid! She sat for two hours until the rising sun poked through the cracks and between doors of a huge hanger in which the plane parts were housed. Possibly New York or D.C. She pulled out her maps and “I want”ed back to the farm.
She next paged through the encyclopedia. She touched a drawing of George Washington. Nothing. Well, he is dead, but that shouldn’t be important. She had brought her grandfather back, so she assumed it was because it wasn’t a real photo. No luck with a bad black and white photo of Richard Nixon either. She was relieved. Her heart almost stopped when she stumbled onto a color photo of JFK, and she quickly ended up with a dead president, looking at her painfully confused. Even so, he was calm and cool and gorgeous. She explained it all to him and while he had more questions than she did, she remembered that she had to move on. Besides, they’d gotten to the topic of a black president and Jack was positive she was kidding him.
“Thank you.” Poof.
So both the time frame and location was an interesting variable it seemed. She went to the plane. She brought JFK to her. She found a color photo of The Who playing at Woodstock. Careful to pack maps, she touched the crowd, expecting to perhaps get three or four people who were under her index finger to appear before her. Instead, the sound hit her like a wall of hot air (if there was such a thing). A guy next to her passed her a joint, she watched Pete Townsend’s windmill swipes of his guitar strings, and she didn’t reach for her maps until they left the stage at 6:05 AM. She was so excited to watch Abbie Hoffman come on stage and interrupt their set! They announced that the Jefferson Airplane was next on stage, but not for another two hours, so time to go.
Suddenly, it was an “oh shit” moment. Not long ago she had transported to another place in the present to see a plane, based on a picture taken from what is now the past. However, in her current state, she had been transferred back in time and location – so different than Sully’s plane. Why were they different? The serious question was, what had she done? She was on Max Yasgur’s freaking farm and it was nineteen-freaking-sixty nine! If she “Thank you”s her way to her amazon getaway, where will she end up? On a South American farm in 1969? How does she determinewhen she’ll arrive in addition to where? Is she permanently stuck in 1969? She’s heard all of the silly arguments over the pros and cons of time travel, what you should and shouldn’t do, straight from the scifi geeks. This is the real thing, baby.
Understanding the possibilities, she shrugged them off, pulled out her map detailing the area of where the expensive gataway is/was. The map was the same. It did not morph into a 1969 map – good to see. She touched the map, said “I want” and listened to the feedback from an amp morph into the most beautiful sound of birds. She went right for the news on her cell phone, and hard as it was to imagine, she was right back where she left from. Conclusion: You can sorta do round trips, and somehow time is taken care of for you. That’s one great travel agent!
When she returned to her temporary home, she thought back. Washington was a drawing, no luck, but so was her friend the dragon. Of course, the dragon really was only a drawing. So many rules!
She would call her father, who would always say, whenever she asked him a question, that he knew everything, actually that he and his brother knew everything. Every time, the same routine.
“Dad, I need to ask you something.”
“Well my brother and I know everything.”
“How far is it from here to the north pole?”
“My brother knows that one.”
Still, she had questions, so she called her father.
“Dad, let’s say I’m doing, um, a chemical reaction and there are many possible products. How do we know which one will be formed?”
“Did they take back your A in Organic Chemistry, hon? And did you forget that I’m a biologist?”
“Dad, this is important. When there are multiple outcomes in nature, which occurs?”
“Enthalpy. The one that requires the least enthalpy. The one that takes the least amount of energy, you know? The lowest energy path, the path of least resistance. Right?”
“Love ya, Dad. I’ll talk to you soon. Gotta run.”
He was probably right.
Felicity humped it back to the rain forest. She found some hot springs that had never been reported in this part of the world, as her father had told her (BINGO!). She did some seismology work, fascinated that the springs were fed from a huge reservoir below, giant caverns many miles down. In a very stupid move she analyzed a seismic image, picked a spot, “I want”ed herself down, and found herself on a very hot and steamy ledge, in a dark cave unlike one anyone had seen before. She took photos with her iphone till it reported that her card was full, and exited before she was overcome by heat stroke. Two years later, as she was collecting awards for awe-inspiring photography that changed the way we think of hot spring sources, she had no problem repeating her story of using a new proprietary method for shooting her phone into the hot spring mouth, down 4 miles into the cave, and then retrieving it.
“If I tell you, it will jeopardize my patent ap,” she explained repeatedly.
Felicity was practically sainted by Apple,
No one questioned her because she did, after all, have the pictures.
This time around she was much more free in the use of her abilities, getting her aging parents and family endless presents and things they needed to lead a comfortable life. She saw an ad for the lottery with a photo of a palette of cash. She acquired it. She waited a year, no news of missing money was reported, so she started making sizable donations to the Red Cross, and several universities (but NOT Princeton).
These were, however, all small feats.
Her work brought her fame. People loved her photos and the geothermal community used them. She was surprised, but gladly accepted an invitation for dinner at the White House – the President and 200 of his new friends of the month.
Salads were being delivered when the Secret Service and White House staff practically dragged several people out of the room. [Related fact, the prime ministers of both Egypt and Israel were in New York at the UN, scheduled to be the excitement in the White House for tomorrow).
Felicity was relieved that the president’s opening comments were cut short, because she had to pee. She was escorted to a nearby bathroom. When she came out, her escort was gone, so she did her best to find her way back to her shrimp salad. On the way, she passed an open door with many excited voices inside. In a nutshell, we were in major trouble. Potentially World War III level stuff. The two men in New York were dead. The bomber was quickly apprehended. He was home grown – one of our own. This wasn’t good. The President had a peace plan for the region almost in his back pocket due to negotiations with these two. This time it was for real – but now all gone, vaporized.
Felicity took a deep breath and walked into the room. The Oval Office (OMG). Secret Service jumped to restrain her and whisk her out as she screamed for the President. He held up his hand and told her he was sorry, but there was a matter of immediate world importance that needed attention.
“I overheard,” she said. “Who knows that they are dead?”
“Only a few army staff, why?” the president asked, as the Secret Service shushed him.
“Can I speak to you, Mr. President? You don’t know me, I’m just the Geothermal girl, but I … I can fix this, sir.”
Generals waved her off – no time for silliness, but a female cabinet member (whoever she was) suggested that he give her 120 seconds.
She went into a corner with the President and a National Geographic that she plucked from his desk. The two huddled alone in the corner. 119 seconds later the president, with a commemorative coin and a few coffee table books (now) in his hand, asked everyone to sit tight, and he walked out with Felicity in tow.
Ten minutes later, in a smaller side meeting room where the table was now strewn with newspapers and magazines, sat the President, Felicity, and two prime ministers. The President had been sworn to secrecy by Felicity. The bewildered prime ministers remembered a blast and were relieved that they were fine, unclear of how much time had passed and how they’d been transported to DC. The Prez explained that doctors could report to them later and after much Presidential double talk, with Felicity at his side, the Prime Ministers soon were on private jets home. A true and viable Peace agreement was introduced to the world within the week.
An office was quietly set up in the White House to annually identify and take photos of the “top 200,000 people in the world.”
Felicity’s gift never left her and its unique ability to “recall” the dead was used on several occasions by the executive branch. She unofficially worked for them, with nice professional perks. Life remained quite good.

Book III. The Shit Hits the Fan – Felicity Goes Out in Style
When Felicity turned 80, she fell off the top front step of her home, coming home from her cousin’s funeral, broke her back and ended up partially paralyzed in a wheelchair. She begged to be put in a nursing home, because she didn’t want to be a burden to her family. The pain of it all didn’t devastate her, but helped her to finally accept that she was, well, OLD, and she inevitably related to “old people” and their needs. She wanted to be in the trenches with them. She eventually became an old chick with a mission, no matter what the price.
We cannot know how many people live in silence, and die in silence, possessing amazing abilities. Zero? One? A thousand? Well Felicity had made a promise to several past presidents to die with her secret, although they of course would have preferred to have had her pass it on.
Lets get back to that day. Felicity fell. It was a bad fall. Family braced up her body enough to limit motion, and called the police. They suggested that she not be moved until the ambulance arrived. EMTs gingerly moved her broken body onto a wooden board and were very concerned that she was seriously bleedings. They gave the family 15 seconds to clear off the dining room table and carried her in, with the help of many. They turned her over then sent the family away. The sliced her blood soaked dress up the back, cut off her panties, and saw where her coccyx had hit the concrete, breaking the skin open. They quickly used alcohol swabs to clean up the blood and get pressure on the bleeders until clotting began. Felicity moaned. Cold alcohol was running into places it had never been to before. Dried blood was being cleared from her lower body. Suddenly, her body lost all control of her bowels. Family in the living room heard what will be reported as a loud pop. Felicity popped. She felt and heard a complex array of sensations. EMTs briefly yelped. She turned her head to one side and watched the dark line forming around the dining room walls, about five feet off the floor, being drawn there by the rapidly rotating ceiling fan.
The family was desperate to know what they heard.
“Don’t tell them,” she begged. Through the pain, she had to laugh. It was just what she needed. She motioned an EMT to come closer.
“Son, I know you won’t condone this, and I know it’s not your job, but could you do a big favor for me. If you do, I’ll have your clothes professionally cleaned.”
He looked at her, his jacket matching the wall line. He nodded.
“Go into the kitchen. There are some towels in there. Use them. On the far wall is a cabinet that folds open. Scotch rocks, please. It will get me through this. Please?”
Watery poop (sorry) dripped off his nose onto her cheek. They both smiled. He got serious long enough to say, “two scotch rocks, yes m’am.”
He returned with his face roughly wiped clean as he gave some towels to his coworker. He handed her her drink , and they clanked glasses.
“Bottoms up,” he said, as he dropped a straw in her glass.
She laughed even though it made her hurt much more.
Felicity did end up in a nursing home. It was the first time she didn’t have control of her life and it hit her hard. It took away parts of her, made her less. She started to get small. The end of a life, the kind you hate to watch. The problem is she was still Felicity, and whenever she heard a nurse say her name she was reminded of who she was and what she was capable of doing.
The fly in the ointment that disallowed her from growing old and dying was this. She met others like her – a building full of them. Warehoused. It broke her heart and it made her mad – then it made her start to work on a plan. She would not go quietly into that dark night, not so long as she could remember most of that line.
Felicity on a mission began – she briefly converted half of her nursing home room into an office. She paid for a good phone line and a file cabinet. The residents in her wing had become important to her. The plan had a short fuse. She had a list posted with check marks growing next to each item.
1. Check bank account balance. Check!
2. Book hotel – second floor. Check.
(When her aunt died, Felicity ended up being part owner of a very nice hotel in the city, which gave her an outstanding income. She decided it would finally become useful to her.)
3. Rent bus and driver. Check!
4. Complete files.
Under it all was underlined in red, “FOUR DAYS”.
In her file cabinet she was working on 28 folders, for the 28 people she had met whom she learned to love the most. In each was a form.
1. Patient’s name
2. Spouses’ name.
3. Recent photo available?
4. Date on photo (approximate)
5. Emergency phone numbers (children?)
They were mostly women, although a few men. They all were alone, their spouses having expired first. Many of them weren’t doing well at all.
She had to explain to each what her plan was, but at the very last minute, because this wasn’t the best group for keeping secrets. Soon there would be no secrets, but until her plan was initiated, she couldn’t take any chances.
She awoke the first of the 28, Florence, at 5 AM. She was going to do her rounds. For each she did the same. She woke them, up, explained the rules – 4 days. Take them and enjoy them. It has to be this way. Four days. They all swore to comply. She pulled a photo out of Florence’s folder – a picture of her and her husband, about 10 years old. Felicity touched the photo of Florence and said, “I want.” Florence faded, and in her place a younger Florence appeared. Several seconds later, her husband was in the room with her. Florence was younger, but remembered everything, and helped explain to her husband that he was brought back to spend four days with her before she passed away. Don’t ask too many questions, just appreciate and enjoy this amazing gift. Felicity handed them a page of instructions and quickly moved to the second bed in the room, to repeat the process with the second of the 28, Irene.
Felicity’s work was well underway when the skeleton AM staff realized that couples were coming out of many of the rooms and heading for the door. One person of each couple was recognized, sort of, but not really. It must have been a son or daughter. But why so early? A nurse entered Florence and Irene’s room. It was empty. This discovery was repeated over and over as the couples followed the instructions, went out the front door, and got onto a very large and elegant bus.
Felicity and her husband were the last to exit the building, hand in hand, exchanging kisses with each heartbeat. She informed the girl behind the front desk that everything was going to be ok, and the patients would be back in four days. She got on the bus, welcomed everyone (who all could hear what she was saying!). The bus door closed and several staff members watched it ride off into the rising sun at the end of 18th street.
Some spouses were understandably confused, bordering on needing a therapist, but the people on the bus helped each other to deal, and they quickly focused on the opportunity they were given. They were taken on a wandering route down along the river, up the center of town, and into a large garage door that swallowed the bus. Everyone was escorted to the front desk, and given a room key. Inside, the bar was stocked, there were baskets of fruit and junk food, and a complimentary card was on the table that was to be used to pay for bar bills and restaurant bills. With five places to eat and three to drink in the hotel, plus a great pool, one could easily find things to do for four days without leaving, if one chose to get out of bed.
The world changed today as a story got out that younger editions of patients in a nursing home, each with some partner or host or something, had walked out and disappeared. Old people were missing. Children were interviewed, but no one seemed concerned. Most of them had been invited to what was a very unique reunion, and for this, they remained silent.
Something had happened. No one was sure what, but old people were somehow transformed into younger people. Felicity had never done anything so brazen, but keeping her abilities secret was no longer a personal priority.
It took hours for all of the goodbye hugs between the 56 fortunates, their children, and Felicity. The goodbyes were tough, as was hers. She wasn’t sure that bringing her husband back was the best thing to do, but she had to experience what they all were, and she was glad she did. Florence and her husband tried to sneak off, just run off and live their lives, but Felicity’s plan was a good one. They had no money, no jobs, nowhere to go. They would not have enjoyed what would have followed.
No one’s spouse was permitted to leave the bus, so with hasty last goodbyes, Felicity did her best to reconstitute the 28 plus her to their natural selves, and she led them back into the nursing home. The bus driver returned the empty bus to its home.
20 of the 29 died within a week. There was no sorrow in these families, only immense joy. Felicity was one of the 20.

The President was not notified of Felicity’s passing until her cremation had been complete – a request that was spelled out in her will. When she heard the news, Madame President thought she would do something special for the family she’d gotten to know. She got on the phone to Harry, Felicity’s son. After insuring him that this was not a prank call, Harry was shocked to learn that the call was for him. The President offered to fly Harry down to the rain forest that Felicity loved, to sprinkle his mother’s ashes there. Harry was speechless. Harry was excited. The family was touched. You’ll never ever, not in a billion years, guess what happened to Harry as he walked through the dense canopy of ageless trees.

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